Arts and Culture Minister Miri Regev (Likud) is creating a proposed bill that is being referred to as “Loyalty in Culture,” which is aimed at changing the way the Ministry of Culture supports cultural organizations.
According to the bill, financial support for artists or cultural organizations that deface the flag or other national symbols, incites racism, violence or terror will be revoked. These categories include any organization that commemorates Independence Day as a day of mourning, as well as any artist or organization that negates the existence of the state of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
Regev has already had an impact among left-wing artists who have conducted a number of campaigns to unseat her. Despite this, a recent poll conducted by Midgam shows that Regev has the 7th highest approval rating for any minister in the cabinet.
This new bill would be the first instance in which government financial support would be dependent upon the subject material that is being created by artists. Regev is calling the initiative “Cultural Justice”. Regev is set to introduce her proposed bill during a special hearing of the Education Committee of the Knesset on Wednesday.
According to a report that appeared on Yediot Aharonot, the current law in Israel states that a cultural institution can be fined for violating Israeli law, but that fine can only be applied by the Finance Ministry. Thus the Ministry of Culture and Sport must continue to fund the organization, and has no legal means to withhold the funding.
Regev claims that the authority to fine institutions over their content needs to be transferred to the Ministry of Culture, because the Ministry of Finance has no access or control over the content that artists and cultural organizations produce. Currently, the country is financing organizations without any oversight as to the content whatsoever.
“It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture and Sport to oversee all of the cultural institutions in Israel and to make certain that they are not breaking any laws. Cultural institutions are not above the law. They need to comply with Israeli law, and it is our responsibility to make certain that they do just that, and not to close our eyes to their infractions.”
“We won’t be an ATM for these organizations” added Regev. “I have a responsibility to handle public money and this new law will allow me to fulfill that responsibility and prevent financial support from going to organizations that break the law.”
“I believe that this law will come to pass, and that Israel will only finance cultural institutions that adhere to Israel and to our laws, this is something that should have been obvious from the outset. We will no longer allow Israeli law to be broken under the guise of the ‘freedom of speech’”.